Soon enough, bigger vehicles will be able to drive themselves, and Daimler brings Mercedes-Benz self-driving trucks to the highway to prove just how close we really are. The driverless car industry has been in development and holds great promise. Many car manufacturers are investing in the market.
Daimler board member Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard and Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann, have taken the standard Mercedes-Benz Actros along the Autobahn, in Germany. The truck was equipped with the high-tech and smart Highway Pilot system. It allowed for the two to display the fully functional autonomous and partly autonomous qualities of the vehicle.
The truck was taken to the highway between Denkendorf and Stuttgart, driven slowly to the open stretch of road before the system was turned on. And then, similar to how a plane’s autopilot functions, the smart Highway Pilot took over. It took charge of taking traffic into account through the radar and stereo camera mounted at the front.
It also made use of assistance systems, such as cruise control, to smoothly go around other cars as it blended into traffic. With just one push of the button on the dashboard, the massive vehicle was able to take care of itself. However, as per rule of driverless cars, the human element was not entirely removed from the situation.
There was an actual driver assistant, in case of accidents or difficult situations. The truck was able to successfully navigate through the road, reaching speeds up to 50 miles per hour.
One of the perks, according to Bernhard, is that the intelligent Highway Pilot never sleeps, it’s never inattentive and certainly would never get tired. It would be perfectly alert and working 100% of the time, night or day. That is a huge leap in safety, considering the dangers of drifting off to sleep during long drives.
As stated by Bernhard, no matter how good of a driver you may be, you will never be as good as the Highway Pilot. The high-tech, self-driving system has completed around 12,400 miles on several routes in Germany and the United States.
It could lower the number of highway accidents, reduce CO2 emissions, and reduce the stress in the cockpit with the driver. It would help alleviate the pressure of night driving, but might prompt the human to take over in poor weather conditions. Autonomous driving is set to improve the flow of traffic while relieving the strain from actual drivers.
The Highway Pilot is hoped to hit the markets in Germany in the next couple of years, but it will require lawmakers to allow it.
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